Pedosphere 25(1): 112--123, 2015
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2015 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Leaf and ecosystem gas exchange responses of buffel grass-dominated grassland to summer precipitation
1Department of Plant Ecology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth D-95447 (Germany)
2Department of Plant Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai 625021 (India) 3Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61820 (USA)
      Sporadic rain events that occur during summer play an important role in the initiation of biological activity of semi-arid grasslands. To understand how ecosystem processes of a buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris L.)-dominated grassland respond to summer rain events, an LI 6 400 gas exchange system was used to measure the leaf gas exchange and plant canopy chambers were used to measure net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) and ecosystem respiration (Reco), which were made sequentially during periods before rain (dry) and after rain (wet). Gross ecosystem photosynthesis (GEP) was estimated from NEE and Reco fluxes, and light use efficiency parameters were estimated using a rectangular hyperbola model. Prior to the monsoon rain, grassland biomass was non-green and dry exhibiting positive NEE (carbon source) and low GEP values during which the soil water became increasingly scarce. An initial rain pulse (60 mm) increased the NEE from pre-monsoon levels to negative NEE (carbon gain) with markedly higher GEP and increased green biomass. The leaf photosynthesis and leaf stomatal conductance were also improved substantially. The maximum net CO2 uptake (i.e., negative NEE) was sustained in the subsequent period due to multiple rain events. As a result, the grassland acted as a net carbon sink for 20 d after first rain. With cessation of rain (drying cycle), net CO2 uptake was reduced to lower values. High sensitivity of this grassland to rain suggests that any decrease in precipitation in summer may likely affect the carbon sequestration of the semiarid ecosystem.
Key Words:  biomass, CO2 exchange, photosynthesis, respiration, soil moisture, stomatal conductance
Citation: Hussain, M. Z., Saraswathi, G., Lalrammawia, C., Otieno, D., Paliwal, K. and Tenhunen, J. 2015. Leaf and ecosystem gas exchange responses of buffel grass-dominated grassland to summer precipitation. Pedosphere. 25(1): 112-123.
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